A PETITION has been launched to save a Southend pub which is under threat of closure.

People have come out in support of the Old Hat, in Alexandra Street, which is set to face a licence review on Monday.

It comes after a police drugs bust in August where a 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to supply.

The police then took the pub to review - meaning it could face stringent conditions or even have its licence revoked.

But a total of 169 people have now signed a petition to say they believe it is a well-managed business and the licence should not be changed. A further 34 people wrote in with letters of support.

Tom Briggs, 40, is a single dad who lives opposite the pub in Alexandra Street with his five-year-old son. He said: “We go in there and it’s a very safe environment. I take my son to places to eat, I don’t like taking him to MacDonalds, and it’s a nice family atmosphere there.

“I go there late at night as well and I’ve never seen a trace of drugs, it’s a small place and the toilets are at the back, so it would be quite obvious.”

Martin Hopson, director of Hopson Property Services, said: “We pop in there at lunch-time for something to eat two or three times a week and we’ve never experienced any problems.

My business is also in Alexandra Street and I’ve got a 23-year-old daughter who goes to the Old Hat on a regular basis and she’s never encountered any problems or difficulties.”

Jess Hick, a stylist at nearby Raw hairdressers, said: “We go in there quite often after work and it’s a really nice place. We enjoy it and never have any trouble.”

There were also several letters of support for taxi drivers, some of which said they could lose trade if it closed.

Private hire cab driver Sharon Collman said: “I wouldn’t describe it as one of our problem pubs in the town and always has door security.” Proprieter Vanda Peters said: “We are delighted that residents and businesses have overwhelmingly come out in support of us because they are confident in our abilities to run a safe and effective premises and we thank all the residents for their overwhelming support. “We hope now that the police will rethink the case.”